Clay tagged me to do this a few days ago, and every time I thought about it, there were no books in reach… today both the books I’m reading were nearby, and the top of the pile was What is the What by Dave Eggers. This is a novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who is one of the so-called Lost Boys of Sudan. The novel weaves his accounts of life among the thousands of displaced children with the story of his resettlement to the United States.
Here are the rules for this fun little bit of Internet foolishness:
- Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more (no cheating!)
- Find page 123
- Find the first five sentences
- Post the next three sentences
- Tag five people
So, in What is the What, page 123, 6th-8th full sentences on the page read:
I was surprised. And the SPLA man just fell forward silently and that was the end of him. Then we were running again.
These sentences tell of witnessing a murder and come in the midst of a sequence telling how a character’s village was overrun by Murahaleen and destroyed, and how he escaped death there. I actually haven’t gotten to this place in the book yet, nearly though, and I have to say that this is among the most heart-wrenching and compelling books I’ve read. The label “novel” is really for us, the readers, to give us mental and emotional room to deal with the accounts of these very real people. The device of weaving accounts together from Deng and others is what makes this “fiction”… but there is much reality.
OK, so to tag 5… Matthew, Deneice, Mike, Pk, and Len. If I didn’t tag you, and you want to play along, feel free! If you read here, but don’t have a blog, you are more than welcome to post your turn in the comments!